Skip to main content
Saltwater Fish

Reef Safe Fish For Your Aquarium

By March 17, 2021No Comments
reef safe fish

There are so many species of fish that can go in a saltwater aquarium, but if you have a reef tank with corals, then you are limited to what you can have. Not all marine fish are compatible with corals, and it is important to understand which ones are. Some fish will nip at corals or even eat them, and you need to know which ones do this. Adding the wrong fish to your tank can have bad consequences for your livestock and the overall health of your tank.

Here is our list of the best reef safe fish:

1. Clownfish


Thanks fo Finding Nemo, clownfish have become one of the most popular marine fish for home aquariums. Clownfish are reef compatible. There are many different species including (Amphiprion ocellaris), (Premnas biaculeatus), (Amphiprion ephippium), (Amphiprion polymnus), and many more. These fish are enjoyable and peaceful and work great with a full tank of corals.

Here is a list of reef compatable clownfish

  • Percula Clownfish (Amphiprion percula)
  • Tomato Clownfish (Amphiprion frenatus)
  • Latezonatus Clownfish (Amphiprion latezonatus)
  • Clarkii Clownfish (Amphiprion clarkii)
  • Two Banded Clownfish (Amphiprion bicinctus)
  • Sebae Clownfish (Amphiprion sebae)
  • Goldflake Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus)
  • Gold Dot Maroon Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus)
  • Gold Nugget Clownfish (Premnas biaculeatus)
  • Orange Skunk (Amphiprion sandaracinos)
  • Cinnamon Clownfish (Amphiprion melanopus)
  • Black Saddleback Clownfish (Amphiprion polymnus)
  • Fiji Barberi Clownfish (Amphiprion barberi)
  • McCullochi Clownfish (Amphiprion mccullochi)

This isnt a full list of all clownfish species, but it is a great place to start. Clownfish are great for reef tanks, and they do great in that environment. These are wonderful fish for your saltwater tank with corals in it.

2. Firefish

Firefish in reef safe aquarium
TANAKA Juuyoh, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The firefish is a very popular saltwater fish for home reef tanks. It’s beautiful colors mix well with corals. This is a smaller fish, so it works great for nano reef tanks.

List of Firefish that are safe for reef tanks:

  • Firefish (Nemateleotris magnifica)
  • Helfrichi Firefish (Nemateleotris helfrichi)
  • Purple Firefish (Nemateleotris decora)
  • Exquisite Firefish (Nemateleotris exquisita)

3. Neon Blue Goby

Elacatinus oceanops
Jmk7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Neon Blue Gobies (Elacatinus oceanops) are great choices for reef tanks, especially nano tanks. They are small in size, and they do not require a large volume of saltwater. These marine fish love to swim around corals, and they love to peck parasites off of other fish.

4. Yellow Tang

Yellow Tang
I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Yellow Tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) is a marine fish that is on almost everyone’s list. It is one of the first high dollar purchases for many people who own reef tanks. A lot of fish tank owners start with lower priced fish, and the Tang is the showcase fish for many hobbyist. This fish loves to clean up algae off of live rock and corals. Due to recent legislation in 2021, they are difficult and more expensive to acquire.

5. Dragonets

Gdiggers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dragonets are the most beautiful reef safe fish. They have an amazing color pattern that includes blue, red, orange, and black. These look beautiful swimming around in your saltwater aquarium.

6. Cardinalfish

reef safe Pajama Cardinalfish
Brian Gratwicke, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cardinalfish makes a great peaceful reef safe fish. They don’t get above 2 inches, and they need a fair amount of live rock and corals to hide in. These fish should be kept in small schools.

List of reef safe Cardinalfish:

  • Pajama Cardinalfish (Sphaeramia nematoptera)
  • Yellow Cardinalfish (Ostorhinchus luteus)
  • Banggai Cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni)

7. Chromis

Chromis marine fish
Citron, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The chromis, which is a shoaling fish, likes to swim among branching corals. A group of these in your tank can add a lot of flashy blue metallic color to it.

8. Damselfish

Damselfish by reef

The Damselfish is a great beginner fish for reef tanks. It is low cost, and they are very hardy. These fish like to be in schools with the same species. They are semi-aggressive marine fish and can become territorial.

9. Dottyback

Dottyback fish
Jenny (JennyHuang) from Taipei, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are many colorful species of dottybacks, and they are a very hardy marine fish. These are easy to care for, and some of them can become semi-aggressive towards other marine fish.

10. Royal Gramma Basslet

Royal Gramma Basslet
Emőke Dénes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Gramma Basslet is one of the most colorful reef safe fish due to its beautiful color pattern

11. Wrasse

Six Line Wrasse Marine tank fish

There are a lot of Wrasse that are not good choices for tanks with corals in them. A lot of them will pick at them or eat them. Having said that, there are a lot of species that are compatible.

Here is a list of reef safe Wrasse:

  • Six Line Wrasse
  • Fairy Wrasse
  • Ruby Head Wrasse
  • Yellowband Wrasse
  • Redfin Wrasse
  • Potter’s Leopard Wrasse
  • Ruby Longfin Wrasse
  • Yellow Wrasse
  • Neon Wrasse

My name is James, and I am the founder of Saltwatercoraltank. I love everything about the ocean, and my main hobby is saltwater aquariums. Currently, I have 3 tanks that I maintain. I have a 130 gallon mixed as my main, and I prefer softies.

Leave a Reply